Wasting money teaching English?

Although or maybe because Germany is still a rich country the unemployment rate especially in the Eastern part remains high. That’s why some Germans are moving to the UK or Ireland to find jobs there. I’ve just returned from York and London where I worked for a company that organizes work placements for German people. Both the companies providing the work placements as well as the Germans working in those companies are benefiting from this programme.
Now, based on our experiences it is vital to understand that if you want to go to the UK you need good communication skills. This doesn’t mean that you have to speak perfect English. Most of the participants of our programme have been taught English for years. Please mind the wording: They have been taught. This is a passive construction because it reflects pretty much how the German education or the German society works: For every single step in your life there is an institution, an authority or organization that tells you what to do. Unemployed people are put into so called training courses which means they sit with 15 to 20 other ‘students’ in one room for 8 hours a day from Monday through Friday watching or listening to a teacher who is desperately trying to teach them English. Think about it: If you are forced to ‘learn’ English for 8 hours a day along with 15 other Germans you will very soon lose all your motivation. I have visited a learning centre in York which is based on a highly effective system that saves the city millions of pounds a year. Most of our so called education institutions waste millions of Euros a year. Why am I writing this? Because I know we have to change something and I want to share experiences with English language trainers, business people, students and anyone who might have an opinion on the subject.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, photographs: In a kitchen[YSaerTTEW443543]

Stealing money? Here is how I see it: When you have a job the state collects a part of your salary and puts it into some kind of trust fund. Then, when you are made redundant the state can offer you a training program that is funded by the money they collected while you had a job. What is wrong with this system? Who is stealing money from whom?

I think you are right, Torsten. What’s more there are more and more such institutions wasting money, not only government ones but also private.
I was in business for more than 15 years and what I can say is that the motivation of a student is essential. The school I was working for had very good percentage of students passing successfully different exams (nearly 100%). They paid for the courses, they needed certificates for job, and they simply had the motivation. I think most of them simply loved English.

But sometimes what is given for free is not appreciated at all.
Any examples from my school? Some unemployed people were sent to my school for FREE English courses. I negotiated max. 6-student groups though the employment agency wanted them to be min. 16. I offered lower prices thinking that this way I can help people in need. Shortly after the course started, there were only half of registered students present on the lessons, some were regularly late and some appeared in the classroom at the end of the lesson just have ‘present’ in the register. As I was paid for it, I felt uncomfortable with the situation so I called the local employment agency so that we could do anything with the situation. To my surprise, they were not interested in the matter. One of the women told me that her responsibility was to REGISTER people for a course, not TO CHECK them.
I wanted to work out some rules students must follow taking benefits from attending free courses so I got in touch with people in charge. I think that that was only a problem for them so next year they … chose another school. For the whole year nobody came to check our job. They wasted a lot of public and EU money, they wasted also my time.
Yes, teaching people who have no motivation is like trying to teach a parrot to speak. And maybe the latter is easier ;).
I often ask myself if it wouldn’t be better to organize a fund for those who have no money but WANT to learn.
In situation you described to us, the motivation of the students exists. They want to communicate even if they are not keen on learning languages. Forcing anyone to learn a foreign language only because someone in charge thinks it maybe helpful ‘in general’ is stupid.
I think there are much more institutions which ‘know better’ what is good for people.


It’s quite interesting to learn that Poland seems to have a system in place that is similar to ours. As Kievstar said, the government collects a part of an employee’s salary to use that money for further education courses. The idea itself might be good, the question is how effective is the entire operation? You have described what happens if somebody is offered a training course they haven’t chosen and paid for themselves. So why not give the employee the freedom to decide what type of futher education they need? Once a person can learn and read they are also capable of making a choice when it comes to their further education.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, question-response: Would you like to see the dessert menu?[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi Jamie,

You pretty much hit the nail on the head - many people in Germany have gotten used to high living standard and they often use their creativity to find excuses why they are not moving forward. I couldn’t help but smile when I was reading your examples of the entrepreneur in the neighourhood you often drive through. Yes, I agree that in Germany we still have a lot of ‘socialism’, that is, people exept from the government and its many instituations to take decisions for them. For example, when it comes to education, it’s a rare case that a German would consider investing money and time into training courses while they happily spend their dollars (or rather Euros) on holiday trips, cars, mobile phones and other items.
You have brought up another issue - the fact that Germans are afraid of making mistakes and therefore avoid trying out new things. I think this is true and it also explains why many Germans don’t want to take any risks. For example, when a German loses their job they basically have three options: they can receive social benefits, they can try finding a new job or they can become self-employed. The vast majority would never consider the option of becoming their own boss because they think this is too risky. Now, when you really analyze it you will see that is much better to try and offer your own services than to rely on the state owned labour agency to find a job for you. East Germany has been facing a very high unemployment rate ever since reunification and that is primarily because East Germans are used to receiving orders from the government rather than moving on their own initiative. After reunification they learned how to use their new freedom: they now are complaining more or less openly about the government, the bureaucracy, etc. instead of seizing the many opportunities that are available to them.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, question-response: You wouldn’t happen to have change for a dollar, would you?[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi Jamie,

Again I agree with what you are saying about many Germans trying to look for reasons why something can’t work rather than concentrating on the advantages of a situation. I recently have worked with a group of research engineers who where on a 3 month outplacement program. Their professional qualifications are probably way above average but they have to change their perspective. Most of them simply refused to accept that it will be very difficult if not impossible to find a new job with the same salary and benefits in the same town. (it’s an East German city of about 30.000 inhabitants). The company they had worked for the past 10 years is now bankrupt and there might an investor who will purchase it. However, it’s very unklikely that the new owner employs the same staff because they have contributed to the disaster of their company but not wanting to adapt to new circumstances. Still, most of the engineers would wait 3 months until a new investor might be found instead of starting a new career. They often told me that it simply impossible for them to move to another city because they all own houses and have family. Interestingly enough the majority of them has grown up children who work and live several hundred kilometers from their partents and seem to be happy with that situation.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, question-response: Should we go to Disneyland or Disneyworld?[YSaerTTEW443543]